Terry Horan - Family Values & Rad Dad

Terry Horan and family. Bottom row: Terry, dog Lucky, wife Michelle. Top row (L-R): Tate, Annie, Thomas, Meghan.
Terry Horan and family. Bottom row: Terry, dog Lucky, wife Michelle. Top row (L-R): Tate, Annie, Thomas, Meghan.

Article reprinted courtesy of Fargo Forum and "On the Minds of Moms" magazine and journalist Tracy Briggs

As an All-American football player at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn, in the mid 1980s, Terry Horan made a name for himself by staking claim to several school records including 'Most touchdowns in a single season."

Following graduation in 1989, he turned his love for football into a successful career in coaching in Willmar and Breckenridge, Minn.

But fate and maybe "a nudge" or two convinced him to apply for the head football coaching job at his alma mater following the retirement of his former coach Jim Christopherson, who had been at Concordia for 32 years. Horan got the job and is now beginning his 20th year. He and wife Michelle and their four children call Moorhead home. He took the time out of this busy start of school to visit with "On The Minds of Moms" about how he mixes parenting and football.

Tell me about your upbringing and your siblings.
I was born in Ortonville, Minn., and as a family, we moved around central Minnesota with my dad's work until we settled down in Willmar, Minn., when I was in seventh grade back in 1980. I have three other siblings.

My oldest brother, Tim, lives in Gurnee, Illinois, with his family; my sister, Sue, lives in Fargo with her husband; and my youngest brother, Ted, lives in Moorhead with his family. My upbringing was a very typical and traditional late '60s, '70s and '80s upbringing where our family was very lucky to have my mom as a stay-at-home mom. My mom passed away almost six years ago as she battled through Alzheimer's disease, and my dad is 83 now and lives right around the corner from us in Moorhead.

What do you remember about how your parents raised you and do you use some of their tips to raise your own children?
We were very lucky to have my mom stay at home. I just always remember coming home when I was growing up in grade school to a hug and a snack from my mom. Michelle and I made this a priority for our kids too. We wanted Mom at home as I remember this as a huge positive growing up. My dad was a hard worker and had a crazy schedule, but my mom and dad never missed an event that I was in and or my siblings were in. My mom and dad made family a huge priority and the love my dad had for my mom was evident until the very end and still is evident today honoring her memory in the way he lives his life.

I will also say as busy as Michelle and I are with our work schedules, we always will make time to be at our kids' events. We might have to tag team sometimes if there are multiple events going on, but for sure one of us will be there and most of the time it's both of us.

Also, both Michelle and I had a chance to coach our two oldest children; Michelle coached Meghan during her travel basketball years, and I was able to coach my son Tommy with his baseball from Pre-K until 10th grade every summer. This time with them brought great enjoyment.

And your dad is still in Moorhead. How special is that to you?
My parents moved to Moorhead from the Willmar area in the early 2000s to be closer to family, and that was an incredible blessing. My parents live just around the corner from our house, and the back of their townhome is the local park with play equipment. It was so nice for them to be around their grandkids and for my four kids to run over to Grandma and Grandpa anytime they wanted (most of the time they would leave on a sugar high). 

Also, as stated earlier, my mom passed away almost six years ago, and I'm certainly glad my dad had my sister, my youngest brother and me in town to help with the caring of my mom. This wasn't easy as anyone who has experienced a parent go through a battle with Alzheimers surely knows the drain and sadness this disease has on everyone involved. I often say my dad is my rock. He showed all of us family members what it is to be a great dad and husband as he never missed a day with my mom when we finally had to put her in an assisted living and memory care unit. She might not have recognized him all the time, but he always recognized his wife, and he was by her side until her last breath. We still keep my dad busy with all the grandkids activities and Cobber football games too.

What kind of kid were you? Did you always love football?
I was a very active kid growing up — football, basketball and baseball consumed my every day. My favorite sport was always the season I was in. If it was the fall, I loved football the most, basketball was in the winter and baseball was my spring and summer passion.

Tell me about your family today.
My wife, Michelle, and I have been married 28 years now. We met her first week at Concordia in the fall of 1988. I was a senior and she was a freshman.

Michelle and I are truly blessed with four amazing kids. Michelle manages the Moorhead Country Club and she has been successful in hiring three of our four kids to work out at the MCC. The most impressive part of this is that she hasn't had to fire them...yet.

Our oldest daughter, Meghan, is now 22 and she graduated from Concordia in 2019 with a communication studies major and a writing minor. She is now the director of sales for National Hospitality Services in Fargo. If I could take anyone on a recruiting trip with me it would be Meghan, as she has a personality to die for.

Our oldest son, Thomas, is 19 and will be a sophomore at Concordia where he is majoring in business accounting. He plays baseball for the Cobbers, too. He should be playing football as well, but he didn't want to play for the head coach.

Our number two son is our 16-year-old Tate, and I often say I'm raising my brother Ted with Tate. He's our artsy member of the family. Tate has added a lot of culture to our lives. I can say with a huge smile on my face that we love every minute of it.

Our youngest daughter, Annie, just turned 14, and she is a very active teenager – she is interested in basketball and volleyball and is a Tik Tok machine. She will get away with anything because my wife and I are usually too tired to make a fuss over what she wants to do.

Coaching football can be time-consuming and stressful. How do you make time for family?
Coaching football at the college level is very demanding. You really have to put the time into it to be successful. First and foremost I have hired a great staff around me that are really good at what they do. I'm not a micromanager – I give a long leash for my guys to be able to coach. From the season to the recruiting to spring ball and spring recruiting, there really isn't a ton of free time if you want things done right. But I make sure my staff knows that it's important for you to be around your family. It's important for you to have your family be around our team . . . Family is too important to all of us coaches to have them take the back seat. Family is always a priority in our Cobber football program.

Do any of your coaching methods work on your own children?
My kids would tell you they fear their mother the most. I'm too much of a softy I guess with my own kids, until the voice raises a few notches then they will all scurry away. But, honestly, I will say this, and this is no different than what I tell my own players, my kids know the difference between right and wrong, and that they need to be accountable for your actions. If this doesn't fall in line then we have problems, and there will be consequences too.

What are your biggest surprises about being a dad?
I love every minute of it — the good times and the bad times. These are all really solid teachable moments. One of the biggest surprises for me being a dad is I find myself hurting when my kids are hurting, and I find myself very happy when they are excited about something that they accomplished that went really well. Also, being a dad means to treat with protective care. It means being involved, being emotionally engaged, physically able, providing financial support, and having influence.

What makes you the most proud of your children?
That each and every one one of my kids are incredibly caring, loving and treat everyone with respect. These kids would stop anything they are doing to help out another sibling and or their parents.

What lessons have you learned from your children?
That after hard losses I can come home, and my kids just want to see Dad being happy. Their hugs put life in perspective a little bit more for me.

If your wife and kids were to coach you, what would they have to coach you on?
My wife and kids need to coach me up in the kitchen. I am not a great cook. I can make great breakfast options for everyone and easy lunch stuff, but my biggest shortfall is supper, especially in the summer when my wife is working late at the Moorhead Country Club and I'm in charge of supper (a lot of pressure comes with knowing that you need to put something together for the kids). My go-to is grilling, frozen pizzas, or going out to eat when I'm getting home from work and too tired to cook something. This brings plenty of eye rolls from my wife.